Monday, July 27, 2009

What's needed? Teaching or Discipline?

Often, a little training or teaching can solve an annoying problem. Got a 6th grader who complains about their laundry not being done? It's time to pass the baton... or the laundry soap!

Lead with empathy explaining that you know it must be frustrating not to have a specific item ready to wear when you want to wear it. Then with great enthusiasm present them with some special gifts for a new stage of life: a laundry basket, laundry soap, stain stick, some new plastic hangers, and some dryer sheets might be included.

Do some hands on teaching of the basics like laundry sorting for color and fabric types. Make sure you ask lots of questions: "Do you want to know what might happen if you wash something red with something white? Do you want to know what might happen if you wash a dry clean only fabric? Would you like to have a chart that tells you water temperatures for different kinds of laundry? " Asking is better telling. They might say no though so be ready to accept that with "Okay... just want you to know you can ask me if you have some later."

Then let them loose. Be ready to let consequences be the teacher. Expect some disasters and be ready with empathy. Also be ready NOT to rescue them by purchasing replacements for ruined clothes.

You can say things like, "I hate it when I ruin something in the laundry because it costs me so much money to replace it." Or, " I hate it when I forget to hang clothes up as soon as the dryer is done. They get all wrinkled just like yours did. Would you like to know what other people do when that happens?" If they say yes, you can offer options. "Some people iron them. Some people wear them wrinkled. Some people run them through a rinse cycle and try again." If they say no... honor that. Lessons are coming. (If you have not instituted a clothing allowance this might be the time to start. Replacements need to come from their allowance.)

If your child is having a fit some morning because they forgot to do laundry just lead with empathy. They'll figure it out! Whatever you do prepare yourself NOT to rescue.

If you are a laundry perfectionist this might be too much for you to handle. Maybe you could experiment with some smaller steps in the same direction. Just remember... this is a skill every independent adult needs to learn. That's our goal, right?

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